Richard Bass, the first man to climb the Seven Summits, has passed away at the age of 85. He, along with his friend Frank Wells, came up with the idea of climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents back in the early 80’s, and both men set out achieve that feat. Bass did so in April, 1985 when he nabbed the final peak on his list by summiting Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia.
A Texas oilman, Bass is also the founder of the famous Snowbird ski resort in Utah. His efforts to climb the Seven Summit made that pursuit a popular one with mountaineers across the globe, and helped to commercialize climbing on some of those mountains. At the time that he completed his quest, the list of mountains included Everest (Asia), Elbrus (Europe), Denali (North America), Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Vinson (Antarctica), and Kosciusko. The list has since been amended to include Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, as some climbers have expanded the Australian continent to include more of the Pacific region.
Long time friend and documentary filmmaker David Breashears made the announcement of Bass’ passing on his Facebook page. The note simply said:
“It is with great sadness that I convey the news of the passing of Richard D. Bass late in the evening of July 26. Dick passed away peacefully in the company of friends and family; he was eighty-five-years old.”
Dick Bass wasn’t as well known as climbers like Reinhold Messner or Ed Viesturs of course, but he certainly left an indelible mark on the mountaineering community. Even today, there are hundreds of people attempting the Seven Summits at any given moment, and his achievement is still considered an impressive accomplishment for any adventurer.
Bass’ tale of his endeavor, simply called Seven Summits, was one of the first mountaineering books that I ever read. It left quite an impression on me when I started thinking about my own adventures, and for that I am eternally grateful.
My condolences to Dick’s friends and family. He will be missed.
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